“I wasn’t looking for this.”
The lives of a well known writer and a pastor’s wife are forever changed when they meet and inadvertently fall in love. Elena Undone is the 2010 romantic drama directed by Nicole Conn starring Necar Zadegan as Elena and Traci Dinwiddie as Peyton.
Some films need to market themselves with a little something … extra, in order to grab your attention. Initially billed as containing the “longest lesbian kiss” in the history of cinema, Elena Undone is one such film. After seeing the film, you may wonder if that’s why you watched it in the first place.
Helmed by writer, editor, director Nicole Conn (Claire of the Moon, A Perfect Ending), Elena Undone tells the story of two women – one straight, one gay – who come to believe they may be soul mates. It is this belief that wreaks havoc on their lives.
Elena, played by Necar Zadegan (best known perhaps for her recurring roles on tv’s “24” and “The Event”), is a straight-laced wife of a pastor, raising two teenage children. Peyton is a writer who crosses paths with Elena while in the midst of dealing with the passing of her mother and a recent breakup with her girlfriend.
Repressed hetero, meet baggage-ridden homo. Now … kiss!
Sound familiar? If it does, that’s because it has become a dominant story line in lesbian cinema, and yes, at least to me, it’s getting old. I don’t think it’s wrong to demand (or at least wish for) a little originality. It seems like every film Nicole Conn finds herself attached to is only a slight variation of the one that preceded it. Conn, a seasoned director and writer, is up to the challenge, that much is clear. It would be nice if she used those chops to deliver something outside her comfort range.
With Dinwiddie and Zadegan, Conn had the cast and the chemistry. Conn also had the amazingly underrated and underutilized Mary Jane Wells as Peyton’s spicy friend, Wave. The relationship between Peyton and Wave is my favorite aspect of Elena Undone. Their interplay, the scenes they share, adds badly needed realness, humor to the film.
Wells, who is also a voiceover actress and writer, appears in the 2012 film, A Perfect Ending, also written and directed by Nicole Conn. I encourage you to check out her site, where you can view her acting reels, take a look at her current projects, and get to know the newest of my favorite indie film actresses.
It’s a shame that the film becomes so quagmired in this concept of soulemetry because everything that happens between the leads feels a bit forced as a result.
I mean, after all, if you don’t believe in the theory of soul mates, Elena Undone is going to be a stretch for you.
Used as a plot device which allows Elena to step outside of her situation and question whether, just maybe, she is meant to be with Peyton, the theory of soul mates is feebly and melodramatically employed here. It disappoints me that (in this day and age) we still need to be telling people it’s okay to be attracted to whomever you’re attracted to regards of gender.
To make a film whose soul purpose is to prop up this idea is another staggering disappointment. If I’m being a little harsh, I should probably digress. After all, Claire of the Moon was the first lesbian-centric film I ever saw. It’s just that … well, this film feels unforgivably safe to me.
I want to expect more, especially from established directors like Conn.
I will say that with the different editing, Elena Undone could have been one hell of an amazing film thanks to the chemistry between Dinwiddie and Zadegan, and the performance of Wells. But, the film I envision would be vastly different than the sugar coated drama laid before you, and I know that there is an audience out there hungry for this particular brand of sugar.
Sometimes, you just have to admit you are not the intended audience.
Is Elena Undone worth watching? Sure, why not? But I would remind you that YouTube is free and you can watch the kiss there without having to sit through the entire film. Usually, I wouldn’t suggest this. I fully support indie film and lesbian filmmakers. In fact, I love them. But, since Elena Undone was aggressively marketed as containing this particular scene, at least you can have a taste. Have a taste and then decide whether you have the appetite for what follows.
Official Site: Elena Undone
Wiki facts: Elena Undone
Is Elena Undone rotten or fresh?
Connect with director Nicole Conn